Insurer will not rule out further expansion following broker acquisitions, says managing director.

Ecclesiastical’s UK boss Steve Wood has not ruled out buying further brokers.

The insurer, which specialises in insuring charities, schools and churches, this week acquired South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB) and Equestrian Underwriting Agencies (EUA).

Wood, managing director for Ecclesiastical’s UK & Ireland business, said he would not rule out buying other brokers in the future, although there were no plans at present.

If Ecclesiastical did make any further acquisitions it would target specialist brokers. “Ecclesiastical is a specialist insurer,” said Wood.

Wood said the purchase of SEIB and the EUA was partly driven by other insurers’ broker acquisition strategies.

“We have been reviewing our distribution capability, especially in light of increased market consolidation. Buying SEIB gives us direct access to a top broker and an established network of sub-brokers to further enhance our ability to reach our target customers.

“We want to be more progressive in our thinking and broaden our strategy. Buying a broker is a good adjunct to what we already have.”

Essex-based broker SEIB generates nearly £28m GWP through mainly commercial schemes business. It set up EUA with insurer QBE.

Wood said Ecclesiastical may look to underwrite more of SEIB’s business, but it was not the insurer’s prime motivation for making the acquisition. “We want to protect and preserve SEIB’s independence,” he said. “We will be able to assist with marketing, distribution and strategic planning.”

The principal reasons for buying SEIB were its growth potential and distribution capabilities. “We can use SEIB as a distribution vehicle for some of our products,” said Wood.

SEIB has an established network of sub-brokers from its schemes business.

The acquisition of the operational assets and liabilities is expected at the end of March.

The broker’s staff and office location will remain unchanged by the sale and SEIB will continue to be the trading name for the new company.

Ecclesiastical group chief executive Michael Tripp will chair the new board, and Wood will become a board member.

Barry Fehler, founder of SEIB, will join the new board as deputy chairman.